Backstage Pass

The Dream to Restore with a Store

by Katie Martinez |


A vision of Elegantees is to see every sex trafficking victim in New York City receive a safe housing option and an employment opportunity. The tool is through fashion and retail. We are compelled to this dream because of the stories we hear. One of them includes a high school student who was kidnapped at age 9, and sold for sex against her will. When she was 12 years old, NYPD Special Victims Unit came to the rescue, but the cop and his partner betrayed her and took advantage of her vulnerability. This damaged her, but today she is overcoming her past. She now attends church at The Brooklyn Tabernacle, lives in foster care, and is bravely working on her high school diploma. During those years, she met hundreds of girls around her age that were also in "the life" and many times would talk about how they wanted out. These young girls are working in strip clubs, and selling their bodies because they were runaways, abandoned, or abused. Their pimps offer them a false sense of worth and love that they never had before. What if someone offered them an alternative that was solid and trustworthy? Jesus is the answer, however, there are things that need to be given first to provide a feeling of safety and trust before seeing glimpes of the truth in God's love. They need provision through housing, friendship, and meaningful employment. 

The tool is through an Elegantees store, which is a dream of ours that is watered and growing often. The ambitions of the store and its success will directly benefit survivors to become overcomers and start a new life! It's been more specifically revealed in three stages. If we focus on it step-by-step, we will be most likely to succeed.

To open the store in NYC and hire survivors of sex trafficking to work in it. There are thousands of teen girls and young women who are in "the life," and we want them to have an opportunity. The store would also be equipped with volunteers to mentor and help encourage them in their working ability.

To open a space in NYC for survivors to gather and learn to sew, and make basic elegantees for the store. This step would be reached as capital allows us to build the sewing shop. Simultaneously, the current sewing facility in Nepal would also expand. In New York, it is ideal for a newly rescued woman to do something creative to help her mind recover from the physiological damage. 

To expand safe housing for victims. There is a high need for housing. This goal will be reached through directly transferring a large percentage of the store's sales to organizations such as Restore NYC to build more safe houses in NYC.